In 1972 Johnny Ford was the youngest and first black man elected mayor of Tuskegee. Tuesday, Aug. 28 he became the oldest, or as he says, the wisest to be elected at age 70.
Ford resurrected his
political career for at least four more years by defeating incumbent
Omar Neal who had upended Ford in 2008 when Ford was seeking reelection.
2010 Ford unsuccessfully ran for the Alabama Senate, losing to Billy
Beasley of Clayton. A year ago Ford announced he was going to run for
the District 2 seat on the Tuskegee Council because incumbent Louise
Fields decided not to run for reelection. Several months Ford changed
his mind and decided to run for an eighth term as mayor.
Ford served as mayor consecutively from 1972-96 before losing his bid for a seventh straight term to Ron Williams.
pulled 1,362 (57 percent) votes to 912 for Neal (38 percent). Pearl
Riley-Franklin was a distant third with 115 votes (5 percent).
important is to work with what’s in place. A lot of that has happened
the past four years is a carryover from what we started,” Ford said in
reference to his most previous term as mayor from 2008. “I’m willing to
work and compromise with those on the council.”
Georgette White-Moon, District 3, is the only
member of the current council reelected Tuesday. Mae Doris Williams lost
out in her effort to retain her at-large seat where Shirley Curry and
Tony Haygood will be in a runoff. Chris Lee won the District 1 seat over
four opponents and Ala Whitehead took the District 2 position.
am so appreciative for the time I have served the citizens of Tuskegee”
Neal said from his headquarters. “The Creator has something else for me
at this time and I will accept His will. I will continue to serve the
community and my love for Tuskegee is unconditional and unwearied. I
want to thank my supporters and congratulate Johnny Ford.”
his campaign headquarters on the Square in downtown Tuskegee Ford
received congratulations from supporters, many of whom have been in camp
for numerous election victory nights.
Neal visited Ford’s headquarters to offer congratulations.
told him I remembered doing the same thing four years ago when he was
successful in being elected and offered to make it a smooth transition.
He promised to do the same,” the mayor-elect commented.
one of his concerns going into the election was how Tuskegee University
students would vote. Many observers believe the student vote helped put
Neal in office in 2008.
“There’s an uncertainty with how many
students will vote and how they will vote,” Ford explained. “I really
worked hard on campus the past few weeks.”
The turnout Tuesday of
2,077 was slightly less than the number of voters in the first vote in
2008 when 2,389 voted when there were five mayoral candidates. A total
of 2,733 participated in the runoff between Ford and Neal.